Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bruce N. Duncan, R.I.P.

Here are some cartoons and scans of work by cartoonist Bruce N. Duncan, provided by and with an explanation by David Miller:

Bruce Duncan died of cancer June 7, 2009, at the East Bay Hospital in Northern California.

Duncan (he hated to be called by his first name), was a regular figure on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley for many years. He set up shop in front of the now defunct Cody’s Book Store. His shop was an ironing board with copies of his publications for sale. Duncan self-published his cartoons using a Xerox machine and hand stapling or taping the pages together. His main efforts went into printing TELE-TIMES which ran for many years. It consisted mainly of letters, reviews and articles from others, including R. Crumb, who even drew a cover for one issue. It also printed cartoons from local artists, mainly other street people. TELE-TIMES also ran a cartoon series by Duncan called THE HOLE AND ITS DOUGHNUT, Featuring Ned Nelson, (a caricature of Duncan as a younger man).

Duncan reached national fame for a brief time with the publication of a calendar that he and fellow cartoonist, Ace Backwards, published. It was filled with photos of Berkeley street people. Dan Rather showed it on the air and helped to give Berkeley its reputation of being a home for weirdos.

It is nearly impossible to know how many different publications Duncan printed or contributed to. Some of his publications like SO BE IT or SEEKING VISION consisted of 50 or so total copies.

I first met Duncan at a cartoonist collective in Oakland in 1976. We both contributed to an underground comix titled, ORGASM REVIEW. I thought he drew the best Popeye I ever saw an amateur do.

His comics were raunchy and sexist, but naturally appealing and many times very funny. His lines were simple and bold. He could knock out a gag panel, a lengthy story or use his cartoons to get his personal philosophy of life across. He was a natural talent who always did things his own way, for better or worse.
In person he was a quiet and soft spoken man. His long beard and scraggly look put some people off, but Duncan was very well liked. --David Miller

The letter by Duncan to "Mr. Geerdes" was written to Clay Geerdes (1934-1997), who chronicled the underground comix scene from the vantage point of his home in Berkeley, CA. Geerdes was a strong proponent of self-publishing, and put his money where his mouth was by publishing dozens of young cartoonists in hundreds of mini-comix titles. His photos have been seen in several documentaries and books.

David Miller is the administrator of Geerdes' estate, including photographs and mini-comix. If you wish to contact Dave for information or for licensing you can write him at

WARNING: The following material is for adults only.


Krauss said...

Sorry to hear this news. Thanks for highlighting his work.

Rick Bradford said...

Great post, Harry. Thanks to you and David! I've just shared the link at Facebook and Twitter..

acebackwords said...

Man, its great to see some of Duncan's work living on. Duncan was a great artist. He was one of the weirdest and most unique of the underground cartoonists. Which is certainly saying something.

Annamalaima said...

Wow, sorry to hear this about Bruce. I saw him last in 2006 or 2008. He wasn't looking so good then. May he Rest in Peace.